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Bi-Amping Bass & Sub (not guitar amp)


SumOne
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I've seen a lot of people bi-amp their Bass through Bass Amp/Cab and Guitar (Royal Blood sort of thing) but not noticed it being done with Bass & Sub. Anyone here done it and have any tips?

 

I mostly play Dub and Reggae, and occasionally some electronic/dubstep* sort of stuff that goes into sub territory. I'm thinking that I could beef up the sound with something like a DOD Meatbox or a Mantic Density Hulk with clean signal going to my normal Bass amp/cab and the sub signal going to a dedicated sub - I guess the simplest solution would be sending that signal to an active PA sub. It could potentially go to venue's PA if they happen to have decent enough subs but I'd prefer my own rig for the times they don't have it.

 

*I feel dubstep gets a bad rep a lot of the time as the stuff that got popular was the screetchy/agressive style, there's plenty of actually dubby stuff like this though: 

 

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The big thing is to use the set in a big venue. Small clubs will be filled with mush, not lush.

 

Weight is naturally one issue. If I was you, a bigger good quality bass cabinet and an amp, and you could omit the heavy sub.

 

A bigger cab and a powerful amp could provide you the headroom you need. Then you could tweak the frequency response to the needs of the music.

 

If you want to tweak the signal, consider using a crossover. Clean lows, processed highs, or vice versa.

Edited by itu
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21 hours ago, itu said:

The big thing is to use the set in a big venue. Small clubs will be filled with mush, not lush.

 

Weight is naturally one issue. If I was you, a bigger good quality bass cabinet and an amp, and you could omit the heavy sub.

 

A bigger cab and a powerful amp could provide you the headroom you need. Then you could tweak the frequency response to the needs of the music.

 

If you want to tweak the signal, consider using a crossover. Clean lows, processed highs, or vice versa.

Cheers, yeah probably the bigger amp & cab is simpler (I'm using a 500w with a 112). 

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Time was that bass cabs didn't go as low and loud as PA subs, but that's no longer the case. Cabs loaded with long throw high displacement woofers are just as capable. The trick is finding out which cabs are so equipped, as very few provide said information. Barefaced is one that does.

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I think a sub is overkill. It fills the stage with super-low, mostly in-usable freqs, gets sent to FOH and muddies up the mix, and eats up your amp's power. 

I play in a reggae band during the summer, and don't try to push to much low end. I have a little going on back in the 'engine room", by me and the drummer, who loves that deep stuff. Beyond that, I DI to three board and let the pa do that work.

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I do this, albeit in a very different context.

 

For venues with a PA I send my Mantic hulk sub signal to a dedicated DI /mixer channel and I get the rest of my signal to my monitor mix on stage.

 

For venues without PA (so my amp is the sound the audience hears) my amplifier takes a feed from the hulk, but I have it set lower.

 

 

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19 hours ago, Count Bassie said:

I think a sub is overkill. It fills the stage with super-low, mostly in-usable freqs,

True. While it seems to have a lot of low frequency content reggae bass isn't all that low, it's just loud. Most content is between 60 and 90 Hz. If it went much lower the Fridge wouldn't be the benchmark reggae bass cab.

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18 hours ago, SumOne said:

Cheers all, I'll drop the bi-amped sub idea and will start considering new amp/cabs.  Barefaced cabs looks like a good contender. 

It's so easy to get pulled in to the whole "Deep" thing! I went through a very unhappy period of working it to death- modding cabs, hauling cumbersome gear around.

It was pretty liberating to discover I didn't need anything special to play reggae. I use a hpf as a permanent part of my rig now, and pull down the mids with a lot of harmonic content (most of them, lol) out of my signal for the reggae band. I leave a touch of highs just to get a little definition to my attack, maybe pull the tone knob on my bass back a bit. I keep my touch light, play up closer to the neck with my right hand.

I pretty much never boost the bass.

 

Don't mean to "give a lesson", here! Just to say that getting the tone is probably something you can do with what you already have, or most good sounding modern cabs out there. I mean, really, most of us have gone through enough gear-hounding to have probably landed something that sounds pretty good... I'm as guilty as anyone... 

 

Edited by Count Bassie
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19 hours ago, Bill Fitzmaurice said:

True. While it seems to have a lot of low frequency content reggae bass isn't all that low, it's just loud. Most content is between 60 and 90 Hz. If it went much lower the Fridge wouldn't be the benchmark reggae bass cab.

Yes. And I'm venturing here that you mean 'relatively loud'. 

I play with a couple dudes from St Thomas, and they like to hear it low but not loud... It's a presence, not overbearing. I suppose much of that comes from the mid content being de-emphasized and the lower content being given some room to stand up. It's not that the bass is boosted, it's that the more forward, mix-hogging mids are cut and moved out of the way, generally speaking.

And yeah, 60-90Hz is a pretty good range. Even up into 100Hz or so has some nice 'push'.

Edited by Count Bassie
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This is an RTA of The Wailers, taken at the FOH. The spacing between the horizontal lines is 10dB. The bass drops off below 60Hz, while the content from 160Hz and up is mainly the other instruments. The vocals dominate at 1.6k-6.3k, so clearly the bass is a lot louder than the vocals.

FOH C.jpg

Edited by Bill Fitzmaurice
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2 hours ago, Count Bassie said:

It's so easy to get pulled in to the whole "Deep" thing! I went through a very unhappy period of working it to death- modding cabs, hauling cumbersome gear around.

It was pretty liberating to discover I didn't need anything special to play reggae. I use a hpf as a permanent part of my rig now, and pull down the mids with a lot of harmonic content (most of them, lol) out of my signal for the reggae band. I leave a touch of highs just to get a little definition to my attack, maybe pull the tone knob on my bass back a bit. I keep my touch light, play up closer to the neck with my right hand.

I pretty much never boost the bass.

 

Don't mean to "give a lesson", here! Just to say that getting the tone is probably something you can do with what you already have, or most good sounding modern cabs out there. I mean, really, most of us have gone through enough gear-hounding to have probably landed something that sounds pretty good... I'm as guilty as anyone... 

 

 

Nice one, yeah all good advice cheers. 

 

I currently play with a Reggae/Dub trio and a Reggae/Ska band but both are just at the practice room stage (although there are some pub bookings not far off) and to be honest, my 500w amp and 300w Bergantino 122 are plenty for the practice rooms and for pub gig sort of stuff in the pipeline, and it does tend to be the low-mids that I boost while cutting back on the sub frequencies so I don't really need a sub for that music. A rig with more air-moving and chest-rattling 60Hz-200Hz would be nice though as I do have a love for Reggae Soundsystems and kind of feel that if a Reggae band is being booked I'd like to turn up with something that can potentially push a bit more low-end than the equivilant pub rock band Bass rigs (although I know a big part is that Reggae gives more space for the Bass to be prominent, rather than necessarily having more Bass). 

 

My thinking for the sub was more along the lines of the track I put in the first post with <40Hz type sub heard from 3m5s. Not so much traditional Reggae/Dub, more like electronic/dubstep type of sub bass that couldn't be achieved with just with Bass guitar and no effects, it'd need a signal that's been processed through something like a DOD Meatbox or Mantic Hulk or some sort of Octaver or synth and then perhaps going into a decent Cab that can really move air at 30Hz (or bi-amp to a sub, or send to PA). It'd add something different that I don't think I've heard from live dub/Reggae bands (possibly for good reason though!), Jungle/DnB and Dubstep (and other electronic music) has been using sub to great effect for years but it seems to be avoided with live bands/Bass rigs.

 

I think I'll ditch that idea though. For starters I'm not in a band that plays that sort of electronic/dubstep music (it's all more traditional dub/reggae/ska), and if I was then it's the sort of stuff that probably get played at venues with a decent PA that could handle it.

 

 

 

Edited by SumOne
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We bought some nice QSC active wooden cabs at work. The KW112 is really very nice. I got very excited about plugging my Hellborg preamp into the KW118 (1Kw 18" active sub)/KW112 combo. I was expecting to be washed by waves of LF goodness. It was massively underwhelming. 

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On 10/02/2022 at 08:05, Bill Fitzmaurice said:

This is an RTA of The Wailers, taken at the FOH. The spacing between the horizontal lines is 10dB. The bass drops off below 60Hz, while the content from 160Hz and up is mainly the other instruments. The vocals dominate at 1.6k-6.3k, so clearly the bass is a lot louder than the vocals.

FOH C.jpg

At FOH that makes sense to me. I send via DI to the board and to the house. On stage my volume is not as hot I don't think, but present. 

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On 10/02/2022 at 08:08, SumOne said:

 

Nice one, yeah all good advice cheers. 

 

I currently play with a Reggae/Dub trio and a Reggae/Ska band but both are just at the practice room stage (although there are some pub bookings not far off) and to be honest, my 500w amp and 300w Bergantino 122 are plenty for the practice rooms and for pub gig sort of stuff in the pipeline, and it does tend to be the low-mids that I boost while cutting back on the sub frequencies so I don't really need a sub for that music. A rig with more air-moving and chest-rattling 60Hz-200Hz would be nice though as I do have a love for Reggae Soundsystems and kind of feel that if a Reggae band is being booked I'd like to turn up with something that can potentially push a bit more low-end than the equivilant pub rock band Bass rigs (although I know a big part is that Reggae gives more space for the Bass to be prominent, rather than necessarily having more Bass). 

 

My thinking for the sub was more along the lines of the track I put in the first post with <40Hz type sub heard from 3m5s. Not so much traditional Reggae/Dub, more like electronic/dubstep type of sub bass that couldn't be achieved with just with Bass guitar and no effects, it'd need a signal that's been processed through something like a DOD Meatbox or Mantic Hulk or some sort of Octaver or synth and then perhaps going into a decent Cab that can really move air at 30Hz (or bi-amp to a sub, or send to PA). It'd add something different that I don't think I've heard from live dub/Reggae bands (possibly for good reason though!), Jungle/DnB and Dubstep (and other electronic music) has been using sub to great effect for years but it seems to be avoided with live bands/Bass rigs.

 

I think I'll ditch that idea though. For starters I'm not in a band that plays that sort of electronic/dubstep music (it's all more traditional dub/reggae/ska), and if I was then it's the sort of stuff that probably get played at venues with a decent PA that could handle it.

 

 

 

Bag End used to make an ELF system- Extended Low Frequency- that generated "lows" from harmonic content of your signal. It sounded like sub-lows but without the mud. I don't know how that works, but you don't see those systems around anymore...

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14 hours ago, Downunderwonder said:

If you tempered it with a Fletcher-Munson loudness curve it would be amost equal between bassy bass and vox? That's how I hear reggae anyway.

Interesting. The way frequencies represent to the ear and to machines... Gotta be different, right? 

I don't recall exactly what that curve is, but although the bass may be at a level of dB, that's not to say that to the ear it overwhelms the mix...

Edited by Count Bassie
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Actually, there are plenty of good applications for a biamped sub/top rig but not in smaller venues (under say 1000 seats) and especially indoors. 

 

Outdoors, where there is little boundary reinforcement is one such application. The additional low frequency volume and extension makes up for the "almost free-space" losses. The alternative to this is substantial side fills or taking the IEM path (which loses much of the feel for the band).

 

These are not casually slapped together systems, but a significant amount of thought (and money) typically goes into such a rig. What I usually see is some form of PA sub (JBL SRX-718's and 728's used to be pretty popular for this application but often it's more of what the sound company is already carrying) and a conventional bass cabinet top, crossed over between 80-100Hz.  Sometimes, you don't see the sub cabinets so it may not be as obvious.

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4 hours ago, Downunderwonder said:

If you tempered it with a Fletcher-Munson loudness curve it would be amost equal between bassy bass and vox? That's how I hear reggae anyway.

Pretty much. At that level it takes roughly 10dB higher at 60Hz to be perceived as being the same volume as the midrange. But it still sounds subjectively bass heavy because there's not much in the natural environment with that frequency tilt. Maybe a stampeding herd of elephants. On that subject, there is a theory why most men like loud low frequency sounds and most women don't. When our distant female ancestors heard loud low frequencies it very well may have been a stampeding herd, so their natural instinct would have been to go further back into their cave or climb higher up a tree to avoid the potential danger. Their men folk would have gone towards the sound, with spears at the ready to hunt that evening's dinner.

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9 hours ago, Bill Fitzmaurice said:

Pretty much. At that level it takes roughly 10dB higher at 60Hz to be perceived as being the same volume as the midrange. But it still sounds subjectively bass heavy because there's not much in the natural environment with that frequency tilt. Maybe a stampeding herd of elephants. On that subject, there is a theory why most men like loud low frequency sounds and most women don't. When our distant female ancestors heard loud low frequencies it very well may have been a stampeding herd, so their natural instinct would have been to go further back into their cave or climb higher up a tree to avoid the potential danger. Their men folk would have gone towards the sound, with spears at the ready to hunt that evening's dinner.

New thread! Lol...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Most of my gigs are reggae and sometimes I have used my Dubster II and Big baby II together as recommended by Alex and the bottom end is Righteous, heavy and clean!!!!
IMG_1944_wDubster.jpeg.8e5d1b93e05e1c2f07db47cef4e76047.jpeg

Strictly speaking I didn't bi-amp it Just had two cabs that had different frequency responses. I do have a crossover on my pre-amp so i could have done bi-amping by frequency. I tried it once but found it a bit fiddly to find the right crossover frequency to set. 
My new pre-amp has two independent channels so I have the option to send each pickup to a separate cab through my stereo power amp. Hope I get the chance to try it on a gig this year. Probably not any use for reggae though.

 

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Thanks to @Osiris I'm now the proud owner of a Tecamp M212 (600w 4ohm).

Only got as far as a loud band practice with it so far but it seems like it'll do nicely. 20220227_105428.thumb.jpg.34e16e730bacad86fc67cea1fea3b8ea.jpg

 

 

 

 

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I still, after 40+ of playing, like Jack Cassady's angle, which was to run two amps: a bass rig and a guitar combo. I don't know how he split the signal, but what a sound. He's got a full, funky, solid low end from the bass amp and a lovely distortion from the guitar amp. About the funkiest dirty tone I've ever heard a bass player jam on. I think my next trip is to find a simple crossover and a decent guitar combo. It'll be a small hot mess to carry around, but I could see it being worth the trouble.

Edited by Count Bassie
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